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Amnesty: Burundi mass graves found in satellite investigation

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Friday that satellite images show five possible mass graves in Buringa, Burundi, which may be connected to last month's infamous massacre. On December 11, security forces killed [Newsweek report] at least 87 armed protesters who stormed military barracks in the capital of Bujumbura. Witnesses told AI that authorities retrieved bodies from the streets the following day and dumped them in several undisclosed locations. Local reports suggest that there may be nine more mass graves in Mpanda and Kanyosha. AI has called on African leaders to demand further investigation into the matter during the African Union summit [official website] taking place this weekend.

Violence in Burundi began in the wake of President Pierre Nkurunziza's announcement that he would seek a third term of office, which he was voted into [JURIST report] in July. Earlier this month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed his concerns [JURIST report] regarding rising conflicts in Burundi that have given rise to gang rapes, torture, ethnic repression, mass graves, and secret detentions and disappearances. The UN Human Rights Council has approved a resolution [JURIST report] to dispatch experts to investigate human rights violations in Burundi, condemning violence in the country, use of excessive force by officials and restrictions on freedoms. In November Zeid condemned [JURIST report] the suspension of 10 NGOs in Burundi. Also in November the UN Security Council unanimously adopted [JURIST report] a resolution condemning the political violence and killings currently afflicting Burundi. Shortly before, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement calling for [JURIST report] an end to the political violence and killings in Burundi. In October the UN human rights office shared concerns [JURIST report] over the "rapidly worsening security and human rights situation in Burundi," noting that 198 people have been killed in the nation since April.

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